Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Campbell agent denies lying over Taylor diamonds 'gift'

Source: BBC Africa News

Courtenay Griffiths: "Miss White, I suggest that your account is a complete pack of lies"

The former agent of supermodel Naomi Campbell has denied lying in her testimony at the war crimes trial of ex-Liberian President Charles Taylor.

Under cross examination, Carole White repeated allegations that Ms Campbell received diamonds from Mr Taylor after a dinner in South Africa in 1997.

Defence counsel Courtenay Griffiths called her account "a complete pack of lies" made up to assist a lawsuit over breach of contract with Ms Campbell.

"It's not a lie," Ms White said.

Charles Taylor

The former agent is suing Ms Campbell for breach of contract, claiming that the model owes her about $600,000 (£375,000) in lost earnings over the past two years.

"Put bluntly," said Mr Griffiths, "For you this is all about money, there ain't nothing funny."

Ms White responded by saying: "I can categorically tell you, this happened. I told people about it after the journey, people that I trusted. It was quite funny at the time. It's not so funny now."

"It has nothing whatsoever to do with my business argument with Naomi Campbell," Ms White added. "This is not about money. This is about a very serious matter and I am telling the truth."

Blood diamonds

Mr Taylor is standing trial at the Special Court for Sierra Leone, sitting in The Hague.

He faces 11 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, all of which he denies, over his alleged role in the brutal civil war in Sierra Leone, where he is accused of backing rebels responsible for widespread atrocities.

'Blood diamonds'

• Rough diamonds used by rebel groups to finance wars against governments

• Fuelled conflicts in countries such as Angola, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone and DR Congo

• The 2003 Kimberley Process requires its 49 members, who represent 75 countries, to certify shipments of rough diamonds as "conflict-free"

• Critics question the system, saying countries with the worst wars have weak internal controls

Mr Taylor is accused of selling diamonds and buying weapons for Sierra Leone's Revolutionary United Front rebels, who were notorious for hacking off the hands and legs of civilians.

Tens of thousands of people died in interlinked conflicts in Sierra Leone and Liberia in the 1980s and 1990s.

Prosecutors are trying to link the former Liberian leader to the diamonds that Ms Campbell received. He has denied having anything to do with the trade in so-called blood diamonds.

On Monday, Carole White told the court that during a dinner with Nelson Mandela, Mr Taylor told Ms Campbell he would send some men to her guest house to give her diamonds.

Afterwards, she said Ms Campbell was communicating with the men by text and was "very excited" about the diamonds arrival.

Her account contradicted Ms Campbell, who last week testified that she had received the diamonds unexpectedly and did not know who they were from.

'Taylor nodded'

During cross examination, Mr Griffiths queried Ms White's recollection of the dinner and the events afterwards at the guest house.

Carole White said Mr Taylor 'nodded' to indicate that he would give diamonds to Naomi Campbell

The defence lawyer repeatedly asked Ms White how she could be sure that the diamonds were gifts from Mr Taylor.

Ms White told the court she did not hear Mr Taylor directly offering Ms Campbell diamonds at the dinner table.

Instead, she said that Mr Taylor "nodded to Naomi" in agreement when she said "he's going to give me diamonds".

Mr Griffiths then asked Ms White why she thought that two men who came to her guest house to give Miss Campbell a pouch of rough diamonds were sent by Mr Taylor.

"When the men arrived you say they threw pebbles at your window and you looked out. Did the men say they had come from Charles Taylor?" asked Mr Griffiths.

"Not that I recall. They said they had a gift for Miss Campbell," replied Ms White.

"So you assumed they were from Charles Taylor?" said Mr Griffths.

"Yes," said Ms White.

'No recollection'

Last week, Ms Campbell told the court that two unidentified men had come to her room in the middle of the night and given her a pouch of stones.

She said: "At breakfast I told [actress] Mia Farrow and Miss White what had happened and one of the two said, well that's obviously Charles Taylor, and I said, yes I guess it was."

Campbell: 'I saw a few dirty looking stones in the pouch'

But in court today Ms White said she had "no recollection of having breakfast with Mia Farrow".

"Do you recall having breakfast with Naomi Campbell?" asked the presiding judge, Julia Sebutinde.

"I don't recall breakfast at all," Ms White replied.

Mr Taylor, 62, was arrested in 2006 and his trial in opened in 2007.

The former warlord is accused of arming Sierra Leone's Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels during the 1991-2002 civil war - a charge he denies.

Prosecutors say that from his seat of power in Liberia, Mr Taylor also trained and commanded the rebels who murdered, raped and maimed Sierra Leone civilians, frequently hacking off their hands and legs.

Mr Taylor's trial gained little international media coverage until the appearance of Ms Campbell.

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Everyone is a genius

Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. – A Einstein

Drawing the line in Liberia

Crimes sponsored, committed, or masterminded by handful of individuals cannot be blamed upon an entire nationality. In this case, Liberians! The need for post-war justice is a step toward lasting peace, stability and prosperity for Liberia. Liberia needs a war crimes tribunal or some credible legal forum that is capable of dealing with atrocities perpetrated against defenseless men, women and children during the country's brutal war. Without justice, peace shall remain elusive and investment in Liberia will not produce the intended results. - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Men with unhealthy characters should not champion any noble cause

They pretend to advocate the cause of the people when their deeds in the dark mirror nothing else but EVIL!!
When evil and corrupt men try to champion a cause that is so noble … such cause, how noble it may be, becomes meaningless in the eyes of the people - Bernard Gbayee Goah.

If Liberia must move forward ...

If Liberia must move forward in order to claim its place as a civilized nation amongst world community of nations, come 2017 elections, Liberians must critically review the events of the past with honesty and objectivity. They must make a new commitment to seek lasting solutions. The track records of those who are presenting themselves as candidates for the position of "President of the Republic of Liberia" must be well examined. Liberians must be fair to themselves because results from the 2011 elections will determine the future of Liberia’s unborn generations to come - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's greatest problem!

While it is true that an individual may be held responsible for corruption and mismanagement of funds in government, the lack of proper system to work with may as well impede the process of ethical, managerial, and financial accountability - Bernard Gbayee Goah

What do I think should be done?

The situation in Liberia is Compound Complex and cannot be fixed unless the entire system of government is reinvented.
Liberia needs a workable but uncompromising system that will make the country an asylum free from abuse, and other forms of corruption.
Any attempt to institute the system mentioned above in the absence of rule of law is meaningless, and more detrimental to Liberia as a whole - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's Natural Resources
Besides land water and few other resources, most of Liberia’s dependable natural resources are not infinite, they are finite and therefore can be depleted.
Liberia’s gold, diamond, and other natural resources will not always be an available source of revenue generation for its people and its government. The need to invent a system in government that focuses on an alternative income generation method cannot be over emphasized at this point - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia needs a proper system
If Liberians refuse to erect a proper system in place that promotes the minimization of corruption and mismanagement of public funds by government institutions, and individuals, there will come a time when the value of the entire country will be seen as a large valueless land suited on the west coast of Africa with some polluted bodies of waters and nothing else. To have no system in place in any country is to have no respect for rule of law. To have no respect for rule of law is to believe in lawlessness. And where there is lawlessness, there is always corruption - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Solving problems in the absence of war talks

As political instability continues to increase in Africa, it has become abundantly clear that military intervention as a primary remedy to peace is not a durable solution. Such intervention only increases insecurity and massive economic hardship. An existing example which could be a valuable lesson for Liberia is Great Britain, and the US war on terror for the purpose of global security. The use of arms whether in peace keeping, occupation, or invasion as a primary means of solving problem has yield only little results. Military intervention by any country as the only solution to problem solving will result into massive military spending, economic hardship, more fear, and animosity as well as increase insecurity. The alternative is learning how to solve problems in the absence of war talks. The objective of such alternative must be to provide real sustainable human security which cannot be achieved through military arm intervention, or aggression. In order to achieve results that will make the peaceful coexistence of all mankind possible, there must be a common ground for the stories of all sides to be heard. I believe there are always three sides to every story: Their side of the story, Our side of the story, and The truthBernard Gbayee Goah


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